Arsenal: Gary Neville questions Mikel Arteta decision after Aston Villa loss | Football

Gary Neville was on commentary duty for Arsenal v Aston Villa (Picture: Sky Sports)

Gary Neville questioned Mikel Arteta’s tactics after Aston Villa beat Arsenal but still gave the Gunners a glimmer of hope as they chase the Premier League title.

Villa scored two late goals to put a huge dent in Arsenal’s title hopes and boost their own chances of qualifying for the Champions League.

The entertaining clash in north London was goalless after 83 minutes but Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins netted late on to give Unai Emery a dream return to his former club.

Arsenal were hoping to return to the top of the Premier League and take advantage of Liverpool’s shock defeat to Crystal Palace earlier in the day, but Arteta’s side are now two points behind defending champions Manchester City with six games remaining.

Neville questioned Arteta’s decision to play Gabriel Jesus up front instead of in-form Kai Havertz and was surprised the Arsenal boss did not intervene sooner when the hosts were losing control in the second half.

‘The performance level was really good in that first half but it got scruffy,’ Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast when asked about Arsenal’s display.

‘I love Gabriel Jesus as a player, I absolutely love him because of his energy and the pressing and the endeavour, I love that in strikers.

Neville questioned Gunners boss Mikel Arteta

Neville questioned Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (Picture: Getty)

‘But then there’s a level that comes and we probably saw why we have seen Kai Havertz play centre forward for the last five or six weeks because there’s more precision, there’s a bit more certainty with him.

‘I just felt that’s what Arsenal lacked in the first half, that precision and certainty because they were imperfect in the final third.’

Neville added: ‘With 20 minutes to go, I thought Mikel Arteta should’ve got Jorginho on in midfield and Jakub Kiwior at left-back, get your best team out there and gain some level of control because otherwise you’re going to get beat.

‘It felt like a dangerous situation because the game was going away from Arsenal.’

Manchester City are firm favourites to win the Premier League after Arsenal and Liverpool’s disappointing results on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who clinched a historic treble last season, are attempting to become the first team in Premier League history to win four successive titles.

Arsenal will be wary of stumbling over the finish line, as they did last season to finish five points behind Manchester City, but Neville insists they still have hope of winning the league.

‘You have to trust them you think [to respond to the Aston Villa defeat],’ the ex-Manchester United captain said. ‘They need to call upon last season’s experience when they dropped points people didn’t think they would.

‘They need to get back on the bike because they’re not out of the title race. It’s going to be tough because of what Man City are but it’s about how Arsenal recover.

‘You can finish second to this Man City, it’s about how you finish second. They need to do it in a better way then how they finished last season.

‘We’re not watching a team crumbling I don’t think like they did last year. All eyes are going to be on them in the next week or two.’

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
Facebook, 
Twitter and Instagram.


MORE : Ian Wright criticises Arsenal star for ‘switching off’ during Aston Villa defeat


MORE : Mikel Arteta explains Martin Odegaard substitution in Arsenal loss to Aston Villa


MORE : Arsenal legend hits out at Mikel Arteta team selection and declares title chances ‘gone’

General Sport